**Warning: this blog contains a TON of information and pictures of my pet chicken, Chelito. If you didn’t already know, I get extremely attached to animals. And if you didn’t think I was crazy before, you will now**
I decided that I needed to get around to writing about Chelito; I was too sad to write before. Three weeks ago he went to go live in a new home in the canton of Corozal. I went to visit him today and thought I would write about how he came to be my pet, his life here at the house, and why he needed to move to Corozal.
The Story of Chelito
Chelito came into my life on Tuesday, March 3 of this year. I had gone to nearby Mercedes Umaña with Blanca, Cecilia, and Kathy to look at fertilizer prices. Fertilizer is often purchased for communities around Berlín by their sister churches in Iowa. When we walked inside the agriculture store I heard little peeping noises coming from a box. Kathy went over to the box and pulled out a little chick. I immediately went over and picked one up as well. I held it for a while and then put it back in the box while the others were discussing prices. Right before we left the owner asked me if I wanted to take a baby chick home with me. I was so excited! The ladies nodded their heads in approval and I picked up one of the chicks. I’d always wanted a pet chicken and now I finally had one.
I carried my fuzzy, yellow chicken out of the store and got back in the truck. Blanca told me that I should name him “Chelito.” You see, my nickname here is “Chelita” which is Salvadoran slang for little, light-skinned one (Chele=light skin, –ita=little [feminine], so Chelita=Alisha). Thus, it only makes sense that my new son’s name is Chelito. Well, we didn’t know for sure if it was a boy or girl so we just called it “Chelito.”
Once we were back home we found him a little box to live in for a while. We decided not to let him live in the backyard with Barbara, the duck, until he was bigger in case she pecked at him. Then we put in some little bowls for food and water. He happily cheeped away in his box. The ladies put the box in my room and said he could live there. During the day I’d take him and the box outside so he could get some sun. I put a towel over part of it so he wouldn’t be hot. And while I was watching I let him walk around the yard and peck at the ground. Barbara didn’t bother him, and in fact, she was afraid of him. But he still didn’t stray far away from mom (me). He’d often come over and sit on my foot.
A little more than a week later Chelito figured out how to escape from his box. So I got him a guacal (plastic tub) to live in for a while. It was then that several people told me that “Chelito” was actually “Chelita” (a girl) because she had a “cola” (tail). I didn’t understand what they meant but it had something to do with chicken anatomy. So I accepted that “he” was actually a “she” and changed her name to “Chelita” which is the feminine form of Chelito.
About a week after that I constructed a little fenced in area for her in the backyard where she could stay during the day and be protected from Barbara. She seemed happy to be outside and pecking around for bugs. Of course, the one time I asked Kathy to put Chelita in her fenced in area she escaped. I came home and found her walking around the yard. But it all turned out okay and we realized that Barbara wasn’t going to hurt her. So Chelita was allowed to roam free around the yard. At nights I still took her inside because the ladies said she’d get cold.
Chelita was getting along well with everyone. She and Barbara became friends and started sharing their food and water. When Margarita’s kids stopped by they played with her. Damaris liked to feed Chelita out of her hands. I bought Chelita a giant guacal (plastic tub) so she could stay outside during the night. We turned it upside down and Kathy cut out a door for her so she’d have some shelter when it was raining. At first I’d put her in there and put a little blanket over the hole for a door but pretty soon she was sleeping out by Barbara at night.
In late April someone accidentally stepped on Chelita and broke her leg. She couldn’t walk very well and stayed in the same place most of the time. I, of course, was heartbroken and sure that she’d never walk right again. I even asked my sister-in-law’s boyfriend, who is studying to be a veterinarian, what I should do. He said that broken legs were common in chickens and that she just needed rest. So Chelita began sleeping in the guacal once again at night. I didn’t want her walking much. Thankfully, about two weeks later, she had healed about 75% and I forgave the person who stepped on her and bought them ice cream as a peace offering.
Sometime in May we eventually realized that “Chelita” was actually “Chelito.” Yes, my chicken was a rooster. “She” had become a “he” once again. For a while I resisted the fact that my rooster was a boy. I continued to call him “her” and “Chelita” which Kathy said was confusing to him. But after a while it became undeniable. He began crowing in the mornings. At first it was a quiet crow that didn’t last long, however it quickly became a full, boisterous crow that woke everyone up.
I decided to construct a little fence on the other side of the house by the chapel for him to sleep so he didn’t wake people up in the morning when he crowed at 4am. He stayed there during the night including when my family came to visit me. Once I forgot and left him in the yard. When that happened Kathy threatened to stand outside my room and crow at me in the morning (I never made that mistake again). However, another delegation was coming soon so we decided to move him to the garage where he’d be even further away from people’s bedrooms.
I’m not exactly sure when it started but Chelito began occasionally running after people who walked in the yard where he was staying. At first he’d only run after their legs but then he moved on to pecking at people. Every once and a while you’d hear a shriek followed by the sound of someone running away from Chelito. I think he could sense it when people were afraid of him and would target them. He only ran at me twice. But I didn’t run away from him so both times he ended up running into the back of my legs and kind of stumbling away. After that he learned I was not afraid of him.
He also mistook Barbara for a female chicken more than once and tried to make baby “chucks” with her (chicken + duck = chuck). However, the “mistakes” he made never resulted in baby chucks. However, Barbara also got confused and laid several eggs after that. She sat on them for a while but we never got baby chucks. Yes, they were a doomed couple, just like Romeo and Juliet; in love but could never really be together.
I was leaving August 1-8 to return to the US so a week before that it was decided that Chelito needed to go to his new home before I left. He’d been attacking people more lately and had gotten a little big for the yard. Plus he really needed a mate of his own breed. I was very sad but realized that he needed to go live in the country with other chickens. I took lots of pictures of him before he left. I gave him extra food and he spent his very last night sleeping with Barbara on the ledge instead of in the garage. It was a good last day at the house.
*So as not to be too terribly confusing I'm just going to use the masculine form of Chelito's name in the pictures and refer to him as a "he" since he is a rooster...
First picture with Chelito
In his little box
Pecking around the yard
Always sitting on mom's foot
His new little area
Napping on the ledge
He and Barbara became friends
Hiding in the grass
Still pecking at mom's toes
Barbara, Chiquita, and Chelito: The Three Amigos
Going after bugs
He still knows his mom
Making friends with Damaris
Playing with Marvin
Sharing is caring
The Three Amigos with Alisha
Feeding the birds
Surviving the rain
Getting sprinkled with Holy Water
No, Chelito, you don't need to eat the trash
Sleeping with Barbara
Chelito's little shelter from the rain
Taking a rest
Hiding in the grass
Where did he go?
Sharing bread with Pablo
Please let me in, Kathy! It's raining!
So happy together
He watched over her
I love Chelito
The Three Amigos say goodbye
They had lots of adventures
On the ledge with Barbara
A good-looking couple
He'd always stand out when I came outside
Their favorite place
Last night at the Pastoral House
Saturday, 7-30-11: Three weeks ago
On Saturday, July 30 we took Chelito to his new home in the canton of Corozal. I took one last picture of him at home and then climbed into the truck with him. It had started to rain and then the truck wouldn’t start. Kathy told me not to take that as a sign (but, of course, I did). Eventually the truck got started and we were on our way. I was sitting in the front seat with Chelito on my lap. He was a little nervous at first. He hadn’t been in a truck since he first came home with me from the fertilizer shop. Eventually he settled down and laid his head on my arm. He snuggled in and I hugged him as we drove along.
We made it to Corozal despite the rain and soon it had cleared up. I got out of the car and took Chelito up to the house. I got a picture with him in front of the house and with his new family. Vilma and David would be his new guardians. We took him back to his little area where he’d be living. It was a big area with a roof over one part so the chickens wouldn’t get wet. He seemed a little confused at first, but he walked around to check out his new area. I stayed with him for a while and then left so he could get acquainted with the other chickens.
I played with Damaris, Misael, and their little friend for a while. They’d come from Berlín with us to get to know Corozal. Then we checked out the two other chicken coops that Vilma and David have on their land. They’re big and have lots of hens. Misael was helping to pick out some potential new mates for Chelito. Then Vilma brought out nuegados that she’d made for us. The nuegados were made from yucca which I only had recently had learned about. They were delicious and despite my sadness I ate several.
Soon it came time to say goodbye to Chelito. We needed to get home before dark. I went back to the little area where he was staying. He’d found the food and was standing in the middle of the plate it was on. I tearfully said goodbye to him (because by then I was crying again). I told him that I’d be back to see him again sometime and that he’d have much more space and friends than before. I waved goodbye and walked back to the truck. It was a sad drive home but I was glad that he had a place to live that would hopefully be better for him than the Pastoral House.
Last picture at the Pastoral House
With mom in the truck
Snuggling with mom
He buried his little head
I love you too Chelito
At Vilma and David's house
With the adoptive parents
His new home
A little confused at first
Misael by lots of flowers
Damaris and her friend
Another hen house area
Potential spouse for Chelito?
A third hen house area
A place with a view
Way in the distance you can see the ocean
Chelito in his area
He found the food
Driving back home
Saturday, 8-20-11: Back to today
Vilma had invited us to come for riguas sometime and we decided today was the day to go since we didn’t know how busy we’d be next week. I was excited to go to Corozal because I love Vilma and David but also because I’d get to see Chelito. This time I rode out back with Cecilia and Blanca. It was a beautiful drive although the roads were muddy from the rain the night before. About 20 minutes before we arrived a couple of butterflies landed on my foot. I got a picture of them and wanted to see how long they’d stay before flying away. Well, they stayed on my foot until we arrived in Corozal.
We parked the truck at the bottom of the hill from where Vilma and David live. It’s way too muddy and slippery for the truck to make it up the hill. We carefully walked up the hill and to the house. We were greeted with big hugs. Soon I asked about Chelito and walked back to see him. Vilma said he’d been a little sick lately and I could tell he had a bit of a “cough.” But other than that he seemed happy. And he recognized me right away. I called his name and he came walking over to see me. He stood up by the fence and I talked to him for a while. It was so good to see him again. His tail feathers had gotten even bigger and greener than before, and he was just as handsome as ever.
After I spent a little time with Chelito we all went on a walk to see some new land that David wants to purchase. It was a fun but muddy walk there. Three of his dogs walked with us. We passed the small house of the person who currently lives on the land but he wasn’t home. We walked by a beautiful, big tree and eventually came upon a field of corn. There were some beans but David said the beans weren’t doing very well right now. We stayed a while and then walked back to the house.
At the house the women were grinding fresh elote in the molino (corn mill) to make riguas. I helped out a little bit. It is a lot of work!! My arms were sore after only five minutes of grinding corn. Aminta did it for a while and so did Vilma. Then David took over doing the grinding. I just stood there and watched in amazement at how fast he was able to grind the corn. One guacal caught the masa (dough) that came out of the molino and another caught the liquid part that came out. The ladies did some mixing, added water, and we were ready to make riguas.
The riguas weren’t too hard to make. You took some of the corn mix, put it on a banana leaf in an oval shape, then folded the rest of the leaf over on top of the mix. You set it on the stove and it cooks there for about 10 minutes. The ladies turned them over every once a while to get cooked thoroughly on both sides. Vilma was also cooking some elote to eat (like corn on the cob). When everything was finished was all feasted on elote and riguas. It was delicious! We sat around and chatted for quite a while.
I took several kernels off the cob and took them out back to feed to Chelito. At first he didn’t seem to know what I had. I was holding my hand out in front of his mouth but he didn’t peck at it. The other chickens knew what I had and started pecking at me to get the kernels. But I kept them away so I could feed Chelito. Eventually he figured it out and ate them out of my hand. I was happy to be able to feed my little rooster.
Soon it was time to say goodbye. I petted Chelito through the fence and told him I’d be back to visit him again soon. I was sad to be leaving him again but I know I’ll get to see him more in the future. We all walked back down the muddy road to the truck. As we climbed in we all took our shoes off since they were covered in mud. We waved goodbye to Vilma and David and headed back to Berlín. It was a fun morning.
En route to Corozal
They stayed there a while
Climbing on the truck to avoid the mud
He came over to see mom
Still looking handsome!
Lots of new friends
Walking to see the other property
Clearing weeds from the trail
We're getting there
A cool tree
Field of corn
A few beans
The molino to grind corn
Riguas cooking on the stove
Eating some corn from my hand
Getting ready to say goodbye
He walked over to see me
Petting him goodbye
I'll see you again soon, Chelito!
Lounging in the grass
Making our way down the road
Lots of mud and water
Climbing back into the truck
Getting around by horse
Driving home to Berlin
**To see some videos of Chelito go to my previous blogs on August 20th**